PARIS — French paybox Canal Plus has reported that revenues for the first nine months of the year have risen 16.2% to $1.6 billion.The results do not include revenue from the group’s cable and satellite theme channels, nor from foreign subsids, except for African service Canal Horizons and NetHold, excluding Telepiu. Subscriptions continue to provide the bulk of the group’s coin. Subs brought in $1.25 billion for the first three quarters, a 10.3% increase over last year. Of that coin, the French Canal Plus paybox contributed more than $1 billion. A group statement, released late last week, noted that the rise had been largely driven by digital platform Canal Satellite, which has had a 46% increase in subscription revenue to $111 million. The digital platform has been marketing itself heavily and is about to hit 600,000 subscribers, despite tough competition from rival platform Television Par Satellite (TPS). Although the group began the year predicting zero profits for 1997, due mainly to the cost of absorbing and restructuring NetHold, Canal Plus is now expected to show a $416 million profit thanks to a capital gain linked to the sale of its stake in German pay television outfit Premiere to the Kirch Group. Indications are that profits may even be slightly higher. Canal Plus and former NetHold owners Richemont and MIH have agreed that when the French company bought NetHold, Richemont and MIH inadvertently overestimated the number of subscribers to Italian paybox Telepiu by around 15%, thus pushing up the price Canal Plus paid. Negotiations are now under way to work out how much Canal Plus should be reimbursed.
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